Marshall wrote:Flannel, your part in the conversation strikes me as quibbling over terms like "genetic determinism". I suppose people mean different things by words, or imagine different meanings--so there's always the risk of getting distracted by semantics.
I don't think it's quibbling or semantics. It was a central point. If it's incorrect, there's nothing wrong with pointing it out.
Anyway, how does one respond to Derby's 11)?
Number 11 is, I'm sure, the perfect example of what one might interpret as him promoting ideas about "genetic determinism." However, to assume that that's what happening is a mistake. A forgivable mistake, but a mistake none-the-less.
He said "The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites." He didn't say "The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites because whites are genetically predisposed to be smarter." He didn't provide any reason for it at all, so to read genetic determinism into what he said is probably projection of some sort on the part of the reader.
His justification for believing what he said was given in IQ score statistics. One thing that it's hard for some people to do (people like you I think, given your response) is to ask the question "Is this correct?" instead of the question "Do I dislike what this implies?" You see, it's the latter question that makes people outraged at any statistical difference between the races. Outraged at factual results. When you're becoming outraged at facts...you know there's a mental disconnect there. You've divorced your beliefs from reality completely at that point. Facts are facts. Facts are not racist, not prejudiced, not sexist. If you're unwilling to accept the facts, well, that makes you wrong, doesn't it?
Now, what he's saying might not be factual at all. It could be incorrect. But, it's my guess that you haven't even considered the possibility that it's correct because you're so outraged by what it suggests to you. One of the proper responses to Derby's #11 is to find out if it is or isn't correct that they score lower. That would be a much more clear-headed and reasonable approach than outrage. He may be completely incorrect. Perhaps after controlling for income, and some other factors, IQ scores are much closer to even than Derby thinks.
But, you didn't ask "is he correct?" You asked, "how do we respond?" If you're too busy of thinking how to respond to somebody that you're not even listening to what they're saying, you should probably step back and keep quiet for a while, because that's when you know a hard bias is at play.
We all believe in some degree of genetic determinism. Each and ever last one of us. The ones with eyes and brains, at least. We all believe that a person's skin color is in large part determined by his genes. We believe that, to varying degrees, a person's body type, weight, height, skeletal structure, etc, is at least partially determined by genes. Nobody with half a brain rejects the idea that genes determine some things.
Similarly, nobody with half a brain accepts the idea that genes determine ALL things. When it comes to genetic determinism, everyone believes something somewhere on the scale between no genetic determinism and complete genetic determinism, but nobody worth listening to believes in either of the complete extremes.
I don't doubt for a second that the average black in the US scores lower than the average white. Do I think that's determined by genetics? No. We can accept the fact without implying a reason for it being a fact, can't we? Unlike you, I'm not afraid to say "it's true that US blacks score lower on IQ tests." I'm not afraid to say "Voldemort" either. We don't have to fear facts. Like you, though, I'm not ready to accept that it's because of "genetic determinism." There are certainly a lot of factors at play, and so although the average black scores lower, one must also recognize that the average black is born into a situation that's less conductive to intelligence in general.
But, at the same time that I think it's probably not due to genetic determinism and it's much more to do with social situation and things like that, I still
don't cower away from the possibility that it could be genetic determinism. I know it's a hard idea to stomach, but whether it stomachable or not is irrelevant. The only relevant thing, as far as I'm concerned, is whether it's true or not. Like I said, I don't think it's true, but I'm open to the possibility that it is.
Derby didn't explicitly say anything about genetic determinism in his article. I am willing to grant, however, that he also didn't say that it's not because of genetic determinism, AND I'm willing to grant that, statistically speaking, the likelihood that he believes that the IQ scores are because of genetics to some degree is pretty high, given that the kind of person that would actually write an article like that often does hold that kind of idea. So, he probably is a "genetic determinist" more than most, yes. Probably. But, to say his article is promoting genetic determinism is a leap from saying that he probably is a genetic determinist. I'm just pointing out that leap.